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« Stephen who? | Main | Comments »
Wednesday
Mar312010

The Parliamentary Report

I've now had a change to review the S&TSC report into Climategate, which is pretty much as expected. Here are a few thoughts. 

Was data deleted? - The committee report (12) Prof Edward Acton's reply to their letter, in which the UEA boss said that "none of the adjusted station data referred to in the emails that have been published has been destroyed".  Given that it was the raw data that everyone was after, it was disingenuous of Sir Edward to respond in this way and disingenuous of the committee not to report his evasion.

Availability of data - The committee report that CRU was bound by confidentiality agreements (32) and was therefore unable to release its station data. They do not discuss how CRU was able to make the data available to sympathetic scientists like Peter Webster.

Was raw data available elsewhere? (31) Who cares? It is the raw data as used that is required for replication. I think I'm right is saying that Phil Jones' published list of stations used is not complete.

Computer codes - Here the committee lurches into willful ignorance. They unquestioningly accept Jones' argument that the details of his adjustments were published in journal articles and continue: "We note that the research passed the peer review process of some highly reputable journals." The implication seems to be that we should accept the findings without further question. Evidence about the inadequacy of peer review was available to the committee and so their hiding behind it looks wholly culpable.

Replication (47) - The committee almost sound like they are singing from the CRU hymnsheet here. Replication is not necessary because there are other groups reaching the same answer.

Mike's Nature Trick (66) - The committee's conclusions are eyewatering:

66. Critics of CRU have suggested that Professor Jones’s use of the words “hide the decline” is evidence that he was part of a conspiracy to hide evidence that did not fit his view that recent global warming is predominantly caused by human activity. That he has published papers—including a paper in Nature—dealing with this aspect of the science clearly refutes this allegation. In our view, it was shorthand for the practice of discarding data known to be erroneous. We expect that this is a matter the Scientific Appraisal Panel will address.

I'm struggling to say something polite about this.  By way of an illustration, can you imagine the reaction if a scientist reported in the safety literature that there was a critical flaw in the design of a nuclear power station, but told policymakers that everything was fine? Do the committee really think it's fine to hide important information from policymakers so long as you report it in the literature? Astonishing.

The independence of the Russell Review (113) "We accept the assurances that Sir Muir Russell has given about the independence of the Independent Climate Change Email Review and we expect him to be scrupulous in preserving its impartiality." Sir Muir says it's independent, so it's independent. Really, our parliamentarians think we are quite stupid, don't they?

 

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Reader Comments (49)

On the subject of computer code. Having looked pretty in detail at the HadCRUT/CRUTEM paper by Brohan et al., done my own reproduction of their work independently, and examined the source code given by the Met Office, and found some errors... if there's a smoking gun within HadCRUT/CRUTEM (and that's a big if) it's unlikely to be found within the process that's been examined.

The place to go searching, if you are so inclined, is within the adjustment of data when it goes from raw readings to the final 'product' which is used as input for the programs I have worked on.

Mar 31, 2010 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Graham-Cumming

John

Absolutely. It is possible (or even likely) that there is no smoking gun within the CRU raw data and code. It should still be available.

Mar 31, 2010 at 9:25 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

So - the first coat of white-wash has been applied.
No surprise, really.
Once the other two 'inquiries' have finished, CRU, Jones, the Hockey Team and their 'science' will be whiter than white.

Stocking up on anti-nausea medication might be a good idea - I'm feeling sick already.

Mar 31, 2010 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

The report appears to parrot uncritically what Jones told them, particularly in paragraphs 60-73.

Detailed submissions by sceptics are largely ignored. In particular, McIntyre is only mentioned in two footnotes. He has some interesting remarks on his blog.

Mar 31, 2010 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaulM

Having a second look through this morning, and having heard Phil Willis on R4 this morning, I really think that they were rather out of their depth on this one, particularly given that they were rushing it through. My feeling is that it was a genuine attempt to look at the issue, but they were pretty much rabbits in the headlights for the CRU crew. It amazes me that people who should be as savvy as these politicians should still suspend all credulity when someone with a few letters after their name smiles sweetly and assures them all is well. Looks like Graham Stringer put up a good fight, but the report steers around the gaping potholes, and comments only on the gravel round the edge.

Mar 31, 2010 at 9:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

It was never in doubt that Jones would be exonerated - for one thing, he knows where a necropolis of bodies is buried.

Mar 31, 2010 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrugal Dougal

Frankly, I don't really care if Jones goes back to work. However, I will continue to regard anything that comes out of UAE and Cru as pseudo-science.

Jones, is, in my opinion a third or fourth rate mind who found himself projected into a prominent position by a historical accident. He is in way over his head.

Mar 31, 2010 at 9:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterShona

In light of the recent "news" (http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2010/3/30/its-big-oil-stupid.html) brought to us by The Guardian (courtesy of Greenpeace) regarding the funding of certain groups, do we need to know who has _really_ been funding this inquiry..?

A while ago I saw an interview with a German politician about corruption. He said it was not so much about the direct payment but more "after the fact", meaning that many politicians end up being employed by the people/companies they were favorable for during their political career. When asked if he could name a few examples his answer was "No, I would only get grief for failing to mention so many".

Mar 31, 2010 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeerke

Shona,

Jones, is, in my opinion a third or fourth rate mind who found himself projected into a prominent position by a historical accident. He is in way over his head.

Yes. That applies to Mann as well, among most of the others.

Lubos Motl made this point recently on his blog - the scientific quality of the papers that pass for "peer-reviewed literature" in climate science is embarrassingly low in relation to other sciences. It is a reflection of the quality of the minds of the main players involved.

Mar 31, 2010 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter B

.
Could someone please explain to me the significance of Graham Stringer - whom i understand is a scientist as well as an MP sitting on the inquiry - voting against the other committee members on issues?

See the end of the full report. The other members voted 'aye' but Stringer votes 'nay'. What is voting against?

A little help please!

Mar 31, 2010 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike

Having read the whole thing now, slowly, it is no surprise but still sickening that the 'establishment' figures, i.e. all the professors from Phil Jones onwards, have had their oral submissions accepted without quibble.

It is interesting that the submission of the IOP was not mentioned, while that of the Chemists was.
As has already been noted - there is no mention at all of Steve McIntyre, although Professor McKittrick was quoted. So non-Brits need to be professors in order to be noticed, and Warwick Hughes had his professional description put in scare quotes ....

On the slightly positive side, it stood out how often they mention that they only had a very short time for this hearing and the report, due to the coming general election.

And this statement is also not too bad, considering:
'138.
Conclusion 3 A great responsibility rests on the shoulders of climate science: to provide the planet’s decision makers with the knowledge they need to secure our future. The challenge that this poses is extensive and some of these decisions risk our standard of living. When the prices to pay are so large, the knowledge on which these kinds of decisions are taken had better be right. The science must be irreproachable.'

(My emphasis)

Mar 31, 2010 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

Mike

They are voting on amendments to the report. Stringer wants them to be more critical. THere's a final vote on whether to adopt the report and again it looks like Stringer opposes.

Mar 31, 2010 at 10:25 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Imagine yourself a politician.

Would you love to vote on an important issue where the case for either side was not very clear?

If the issue was, say, 50-50 on the science it would fall on the politician's head if his vote would turn out to be the wrong one in the future.

Therefore, it is very important for any politician to base his vote on evidence that, at least at the time of his vote, was seen as an almost absolute truth.

If the issue (of AGW in this case) turns out to be false in the future, every politician wants to be able to say "Don't blame me, I based my vote on the scientific evidence which at the time was seen as a fact by everyone."

Mar 31, 2010 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeerke

A crucial charge against Jones is that he committed fraud in his work on urbanization effects, particularly in his work for the IPCC. This charge is detailed in my submission to the Committee. The charge was serious enough that The Guardian even had a front-page story that reported positively on it. Moreover, Jones has been repeatedly asked for his defense on this, and he has never given any. The charge was not mentioned during the oral sessions (a fact lamented by a report in The Guardian). And the Report entirely omits mention of this charge. The press release says that the "report did not address" this and gives no reason for such. If the Committee is not going to investigate a charge like this, then why are they claiming to have conducted an investigation?

The other main charge of dishonesty is in regard to "hide the decline". Here, the Committee seems to have gotten confused. I believe that confusion could have been avoided if the Committee had held a second set of oral hearings—which they probably should have done anyway. Perhaps they did not have a second set because time was tight (due to the impending election). But they have ended up making things worse here than if they had done nothing.

With regard to the charge that Jones tried to subvert the peer review process, Benny Peiser and I each alleged that Jones attempted this when he was reviewing my paper for Energy & Environment. Jones' defense to the allegation, given in the Report (p.71), is that he did not do a formal review. Indeed, my submission quotes Jones (p.2.12.1) as telling Editor Peiser "I don't want you to take it as a formal review." Basically, what happened was that Jones submitted his comments to Peiser, and tried very hard to persuade Peiser to not publish my paper. When Jones failed to stop publication, he told Peiser to not consider his comments as a formal review. Thus, what Jones said in his defense is technically valid.

On the positive side, it is really good that the Committee came out strongly in support of Freedom of Information. Overall, the Committee seems to support transparency but not accountability.

Mar 31, 2010 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

It must be the 'Gore effect' in play here. On the day that this report was released Scotland and Northern Ireland suffered at the hands of Global Warming - gales, snow, ice and floods.

I wonder what horrendous weather will we be subject to when the two UEA whitewashes are published.

Mar 31, 2010 at 10:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

One can only hope that Jones does not have the heart to continue with his deception, or that the UEA finds a way to shift him sideways. Whether or not that is the case, climate science will, from here on in, be subject to critical review rather than blindly accepted.
The results are, as others have said, disappointing but hardly surprising. They were never going to pull the plug on AGW.
That said, the backlash is growing in momentum. As long as the sceptical pressure is maintained they will never be able to con us again.
The work being carried out by Chiefio on the GHCN temperature dataset is very revealing.
http://chiefio.wordpress.com/
His analysis suggests that there has been little actual warming supporting the findings of Roy Spencer that warming is spurious.
http://www.drroyspencer.com/
With work like this uncovering critical errors, the end will be nigh for the manipulators. Getting the rank and file to accept these findings will take a while, but the facts are indisputable.

Mar 31, 2010 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterWee Willie

Bish - nice summary. At least Stringer's nays mean that this wasn't a "consensus"!

I'm amazed that the Grauniad has this sub to its article "Climate inquiry has dodged key questions in its rush to clear the name of the harangued head of the Climate Research Unit"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2010/mar/31/hacked-climate-email-inquiry-phil-jones

As Roger Bacon said, "Truth is the daughter of time"

Mar 31, 2010 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterLuke Warmer

The most interesting thing to see now would be the raw temperature data before adjustment and the source code used to perform the adjustments and any records of manual adjustments. With that you'd be able to go back to the data coming in from the field and follow it through all the way to the production of HadCRUT and CRUTEM. If CRU or the Met Office released all that information then it would put to rest a lot of questions that people in this forum have about whether the climate is warming or not.

Naturally, it wouldn't tell you whether man is responsible, but it would be a nice piece of spring cleaning to make sure that all the bugs are shaken out and the adjustments see the light of day.

I have spent no time looking for the raw data, does anyone know if it's available? If not, I suppose that a FOI request to the Met Office would be the only way to obtain it.

Mar 31, 2010 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Graham-Cumming

Vote, vote, vote for Graham Stringer!

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/general_election/blackley_and_broughton/s/1202024_blackley_and_broughton

Mar 31, 2010 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

Graham, as Andrew says above, the problem with the raw data is not that it is known not to be available but that Jones has just provided a list of stations, one that is generally believed not to be complete, and you have to go chasing up each of these stations to assemble exactly the same set that CRU has used. If they have given you the full list.

And then you have no source code for the 'final' adjustments. There's no audit trail. Of something this important. It's a disgrace, shoddy at the most elementary level.

Mar 31, 2010 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

John Graham-Cumming, that was said to you. I won't be the first to call you Graham but it's still an embarrassing error. Apologies.

Mar 31, 2010 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

You have conferred a knighthood on Professor Edward Acton. Hardly worthy!

Mar 31, 2010 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Green

Richard Green

I keep doing that...

Fixed now.

Mar 31, 2010 at 12:00 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

May I recommend Mummy Long-Legs:

http://andtherewasmethinking.blogspot.com/2010/03/nu-science.html

Mar 31, 2010 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Wood

This is how religions spread- by co-opting the thinking process so that no matter the evidence, the conclusion is the same.

Mar 31, 2010 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

By accepting the independence of the Muir-Russell review & the one on whether catastrophic warming is actually happening - run by the windfarm owner - the MPs have managed to maintain the fraud while keeping their own fingerptints off. This suggests they know what a crime is being done but having previously voted to cut CO2 use by ultimately 80% they could hardly have gone further in the direction of honesty.

Mar 31, 2010 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

I do not imagine that anyone will take Jones seriously after this. There are too many questions which have not been answered.

The upshot of the enquiry is that Jones is shambolic and we simply don't know whether he has manipulated any data. He has not been exhonerated and should be required to produce a full account of his data acquisition and analysis methods. If he can demonstrate to a general scientific peer group that his data and methods are robust, then he will exhonerated.

The jury is still out.

Mar 31, 2010 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterrcsz

John Graham-Cumming,

The most interesting thing to see now would be the raw temperature data before adjustment

Go ask one of the several people and institutions who have corroborated the CRU trends from raw data. Even Roy Spencer has done it.

Fixating on CRU when all these other corroborations exist is like having five clocks that all say it is about 2:20pm, and worrying about whether one of them is fast because of some detail in its mechanism. Well what about the other ones? Most probably it's still about 2:20pm.

Same with the temperature trends - there is really little doubt about the warming trend and its rough magnitude. They can't all be wrong and the natural world certainly seems to think it is warming.

Mar 31, 2010 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Yes, it would be good if all the raw data were available, but I suspect that to actually go all the way back to the raw data and work forward to CRUTEM3 would be a nightmare. If you follow through on the homogenization you'll see that lots of it was done by hand:


4.2.1. Jones global data set. The Jones et al. (1986a,b,c, see also Jones, 1994) data set is a global monthly mean temperature data set where the vast majority of the stations have undergone homogeneity assessment. The assessment of station homogeneity is performed by comparison of the annual temperature time series with that from neighbouring stations. Station difference time series plots are subjectively studied for jumps and/or trends. Using n stations in a small group there will be (n − l)n /2 comparisons. At least three stations enables the errant station (the one with the problem) at a particular time to be isolated (if n = 2 there is only one comparison, so either could be wrong).

All comparisons are done visually. Stations revealing multiple jumps ( >= 3) and/or trends in the difference series are deemed non-homogeneous and not correctable. These stations are removed from the data base. The homogeneity assessment is only done on the annual data so compensating errors during the year will not be detected. The ability to detect jumps visually depends on the station variability. It is much easier to detect jumps in the tropics than in the higher latitudes because the year to year variability is smaller in the tropics compared to higher latitudes.

Having located the jumps in the station time series, a reason for the change may be apparent in the station history file (Bradley et al., 1985). Even if there is no reason, adjustment is undertaken. Adjustment uses from one to three neighbouring stations (homogeneous or previously adjusted stations) to calculate monthly adjustment factors for the errant station using at least a 10-year period before and after the jump. Adjustment factors, which are calculated on a monthly basis because they generally have an annual cycle, are added to all years before the jump.


That's from "Homogenity adjustments of in situ atmospheric climate date: a review" (Peterson el al. 1998) and is talking about the "Jones data set". And to fully understand what's being talked about there you'll need to take a look at "Northern Hemisphere Surface Air Temperature Variations: 1851 – 1984" (Jones et al. 1986).

That last paper shows how the homogenization was done, but essentially what it did was it adjusted historical temperatures to match up with current temperatures when there was a jump in the data. So, if a thermometer was suddenly moved to a rural area and the average temperature dropped then all historical temperatures before the move would be decreased by a correction amount. Similarly for a move to a warmer area with historical temperatures being increased.

Mar 31, 2010 at 2:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Graham-Cumming

Frank

I agree with you that the world appears to be warming. That should not be a reason to prevent disclosure of CRU's data and code.

Mar 31, 2010 at 2:29 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

@Frank Thanks for the note. I'm not sure who Roy Spencer is, but I'll Google around.
@Richard Don't worry about calling me Graham, I've been called worse :-)

Mar 31, 2010 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Graham-Cumming

JGC

The suspicion must be that CRUTEM is not replicable. Time to start again perhaps.

Mar 31, 2010 at 2:32 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Perhaps it's not reproducible and the Met Office has proposed starting again, but if you read through the papers you'll see that 56% of the stations in Jones et al. 1986 were not homogenized. It would be instructive to just work with those untouched stations and look at the trend.

It's possible that someone has already done that.

Mar 31, 2010 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Graham-Cumming

John-Graham Cumming,

I'm not sure who Roy Spencer is, but I'll Google around.

I've linked to a number of the analyses including Spencer's and Tamino's here. Spencer's is interesting because he is a 'sceptic' and Tamino's is interesting because it will be written up and submitted for publication in the literature.

The key point here is that replication and repetition is not the same thing. Reimplementation has value because it can show up implementation errors, but if that's all you do you'll repeat any design mistakes (and arguably code sharing leads to propagation of implementation mistakes too).

These independent analyses, all in rough agreement, limit the magnitude of any error you can expect from any implementation mistakes and even design mistakes - i.e. not much. When all the clocks say it's about 2:20pm, none of them are going to be very much out unless they all rely on the same design and components. And these temperature analyses don't, and shouldn't.

Mar 31, 2010 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

@Frank Thanks for that link. That saves me from doing my own reanalysis!

Mar 31, 2010 at 2:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Graham-Cumming

This whole business is somewhat disheartening and this is just the start. The UEA inquiries will result in much the same sort of propaganda.

People will be told it was all a storm in a teacup and that the science is fine blah blah ... and then we will be back to square one, although people will be a little bit more cynical than they once were.

The only thing that can derail the AGW bandwagon is if temperatures continue to remain flattish or dip. Monitoring the temperature measurers is now crucial and we can see here that the parliamentary committee are helping that effort by demanding opening up the data. This has got to continue to be the focus of sceptics.

Mar 31, 2010 at 3:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterDominic

I am not a scientist but I have worked in universities providing representation for university staff in different situations where they needed my help. May I suggest that I think it is still open to those who feel Jones, Briffa or others at CRU have committed some kind of dishonesty or other breach of the University rules to raise the matter through formal procedures - disciplinary or grievance procedures. Mr Keenan might wish to consider this possibility if he has not already done so, particularly as he feels the Parliamentary Committee did not address the matter.If he does wish to do this it might be useful to him to talk to a solicitor who has experience of employment law.
Have the actions of Jones (Briffa ?) brought the University into disrepute? The University will be keen to avoid examination of this issue but a complaint might force its hand. This is a "catch all" rule that would probably encompass actions such as "hiding the decline", breaches of the FOIA and other complaints aired here.
I would urge those who feel strongly about these matters to consider lodging complaints but also to seek advice about how to pursue the matter of complaint from an employment law specialist.
Go for it.

Mar 31, 2010 at 4:03 PM | Unregistered Commentersam

I agree with Frank that one can fixate too much about CRU data. That's a real possibility. But it only becomes possible to make this mistake if there is transparency. And who knows, if we have all the inputs and the outputs and the source code that transformed them - or failing that, an exhaustive record of every manual change, which is still perfectly easy to do with modern version control systems - we may find that there are negligible errors or that there are significant ones. It's not knowing and not being able to find out that it's been entirely right to fixate on.

We may never know with some of the old manual changes where records have not been kept of course. But appalling practice in the past is no justification for any kind of sloppiness now - and in reconstructing the past as best CRU is able, however many reputations are further damaged in the process. It's all change. In the openness I mean. Which may well mean much less so in the data.

Mar 31, 2010 at 4:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Frank,

Go ask one of the several people and institutions who have corroborated the CRU trends from raw data. Even Roy Spencer has done it.

That's perhaps a bit disingenious. Dr Spencer may have found large spurious warming trends in CRU due to UHI, as explained here-

http://www.drroyspencer.com/2010/03/direct-evidence-that-most-u-s-warming-since-1973-could-be-spurious/

or you may mean the satellite data, which does show warrming but doesn't extend back far enough to be useful in showing trends since 1850. So there's still uncertainty about whether the warming trends we're seeing are natural variability, or CO2 driven. Independent reconstructions do tend to show most of it may be down to UHI, which is anthropogenic but less taxable.

Mar 31, 2010 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Atomic Hairdryer,

Spencer first looked at the Northern Hemisphere temperatures, and got nearly identical trends (his words) to CRU. He immediately lost interest and focussed on the US instead.

Richard,

we may find that there are negligible errors or that there are significant ones. It's not knowing and not being able to find out that it's been entirely right to fixate on.

But they must be insignificant, unless all the other temp analyses (which are implemented independently and even have different designs) make exactly the same kind of error. In which case looking at any temp analysis will do. There are plenty of them by now and GISS for example has openly available code in not one but two languages and from two different teams as well (fortran, and python, from GISS and clearclimatecode). So why wait for CRU, go look at any of them.

In other words, from all the analyses done so far it looks like one of the following is true:

(a) this stuff is really hard to screw up (fancy analysis and simple analysis and different choices of stations all give the same answer)

(b) this stuff is really easy to screw up (maybe everybody makes the same mistake and in the same direction - the question then is, is this mistake significant)

You don't need CRU to investigate (b). In any case it's looking more and more like (a) is true.

Mar 31, 2010 at 6:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

sam—that sounds really intriguing. Will you tell me a bit more? Are there English statutes that could potentially have been violated?

Mar 31, 2010 at 7:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

Meanwhile, in America, at least two US senators aren't buying AGW and NASA's flawed data. They are demanding answers.

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/03/31/nasas-flawed-climate-data/?test=latestnews

Maybe you can get a trip to Washington out of this, Bishop? Your BBC gig could be a mere warm up. Hope so.

Mar 31, 2010 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

The only dissenting voice was Graham Stringer, who was also the only member with a science degree (BSc (Hons) in Chemistry).

**

One dissenting member of the committee, Labour MP Graham Stringer, said he was unhappy that neither of the independent reviews had a climate sceptic member.

"There should be a reputable scientist on the panel [who is] sceptical about man-made global warming," he said.


http://www.news.pushpi.com/tag/mp-graham-stringer

Mar 31, 2010 at 9:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterE Smith

"Computer codes - Here the..."

From what I understand (and I speak as someone who only has the information second-hand) the adjustments are not explicitly documented in most of the peer reviewed literature. I believe the peer-reviewed literature usually states that the raw data is adjusted to remove inhomogeneities but those adjustments and the rationale behind them is not given.

"Mike's Nature Trick (66) - The committee's..."

Similarly, as with the nuclear power station example, what would be the reaction if a pharmaceutical company (I'm declaring an interest here!) were to simply discard clinical trial data that showed that a drug was potentially dangerous under some circumstance? Oh yes. Merck found that out with the Vioxx incident!

Mar 31, 2010 at 10:46 PM | Unregistered Commentertimheyes

Mr Keenan (and others, perhaps),

Apart from the Freedom of Information Act I do not know of any English statutes that could potentially have been violated. I mentioned an employment solicitor because it is my experience that even University staff may be unfamiliar with University procedures such as grievance and disciplinary procedures. Anyone thinking of using the University procedures to make a complaint against Prof Jones or anyone else in UEA may obtain advice on how to proceed from an employment lawyer. Employment lawyers routinely deal with these matters, usually on the side of the employer.Trade Unions provide advice for University employees, whether to do with complaints against colleagues or by the employer.

Every employment contract will have the term,explicitly or implicitly, that an employee will do nothing to bring the employer into disrepute. It is a "catch all" term under which a number of complaints may be subsumed. A complaint can simply be stated for what it is, of course, without reference to the employment contract. Bringing an employer into disrepute is a serious matter which may lead to dismissal, depending on the circumstances.

I do not think it is certain that either of the two inquiries launched by UEA will consider the "hide the decline". The Parliamentary Committee has decided there is no case to answer. It might be useful, if one thinks that hiding the decline is a breach of University rules, for a complaint to be made using the University procedures.

Nor is it necessarily the case that the University will look further at whether there has been any breach of University rules by any individual with regard to the FOIA. Again use of the University procedures might ensure that the matter is examined.

University procedures may be accessible online or, by request, from the University.They should state who may use the procedures but those with a direct interest such as one arising from some hurt or injury almost certainly can use them even if such people are not University staff. The degree of public interest might be enough to allow anyone to make a complaint using the University procedures for those matters already widely known.

sam

Mar 31, 2010 at 11:14 PM | Unregistered Commentersam

sam, thanks. University investigations of their own professors will be a sham though. I have tried it three times; see
http://www.informath.org/apprise/a4200.htm
There needs to be a separate investigative body. (I believe it should be a department within police forces.)

Apr 1, 2010 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

Frank:

But [the errors] must be insignificant, unless all the other temp analyses (which are implemented independently and even have different designs) make exactly the same kind of error.

I'm prepared to say you're right. I think though that there are at least four kinds of significance one could mean here:


1. Significant because in and of themselves they point to dangerous global warming.

2. Significant because the IPCC is depending on them and there are no alternatives.

3. Significant because all data about temperature that is widely cited by the IPCC and elsewhere is important.

4. Significant because the reputation of UK science has been damaged by the question marks over CRU data.

You were focusing on signifance type 2. When I began "I agree with Frank that one can fixate too much about CRU data" I was thinking of significance type 1. But later, in the sentence you quote, I think I was onto significance types 3 and 4. And I was certainly at type 4 by the end of my post.

The point you make is an important one. I'm not disputing it, because I haven't made a study on the globally averaged temperature anomaly calculation a focus at all. I take your word for it that Roy Spencer would agree with you on Northern Hemisphere temperatures. The reason it doesn't seem a major issue for me is that the amounts are small, not significant in my sense 1. Not until large positive feedbacks, that haven't been very obvious so far, come and hit us all in the goolies, so to speak.

I don't want to argue about feedbacks or about significance type 2. As I've said I'm prepared to concede the point you nmake here.

What does interest me is how one can get into dispute so easily. In an earlier discussion you said "that is still a strawman". It depended crucially what you meant by 'that'. It seems to me that you meant something that I wasn't saying but that you judged that VS, who I was recommending, was saying. And you felt it was fair comment.

There are differences between the two cases but can I suggest that there is a tendency for you to do what I would call a 'rush to judgment' with the words of others Frank - rushing us all into confrontation once again on the very wide divides that do exist in this area. By the end of my post here I was feeling passionate about significance types 3 and 4, that, once again, we absolutely must have open data and source code, so that the reputation of climate science and UK science is properly restored and the world has a firm footing for its vital decisions on climate change policy. But once passions are running high we can hit the Create Post button too easily. We need always to check we are using the other person's words in the sense they meant.

This post was longer than it would normally need to be. I spent a day thinking about it. And I'll say this to close. I've learned things from you at various points on this blog Frank, no question about that. So thank you.

Apr 1, 2010 at 6:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Sorry for the following long reply: I just sent it to my MP.
It is on topic, complaining about a BBC's article in response to the findinds of this enquiry.

-------------
BBC's Richard Black says: (Mp's Message of Climate Trust - 31st March 2009)

"The hacked e-mails and documents date back more than 10 years, and huge changes have occurred since then in three key areas: "

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2010/03/the_first_of_the_numerous.html#comments

my reply to Richard:

The last emails were 12 November 2009:

The BBC is either extremely ignorant, or shall we say being 'economical with the truth', it is an attempt to 'spin' to the public, that it is all a storm in a tea cup, about TEN year old information. When at the time of the leak the latest emails were FOUR DAYS old.

The BBC must surely know that what is being said in this article and implying to the public is not true.

A reasonable person may ask. Why is the BBC doing this?

Privately, in the emails, (only 2 months before Copenhagen) the climate scientists are discussing the fact that it has not warmed for 10 years, they are disagreeing about what is going on, and the uncertainty.

Just 2 months prior to Copenhagen, where the great and the powerful, were telling the WORLD, about unprecedented catstrophic global warming.
The highest temperatures since 'records began, etc, rising sea levels, settled science. Unprecedented rates of warming, etc.

The very scientists at the heart of the IPCC, the scientists that the political circus depends on to promote, catastrophic man made global science is both certain and a DANGER, scientists like Jones, Mann, Trenbet, Wigley, etc.

One of them was complaining october 10, 2009 (not ten years ago) about a BBC reporter Paul Hudson, writing an article his BBC blog on the BBC website:

"Whatever happened to global warming."

A climategate email: BBC u-turn on climate change (oct 11, 2009):

"You may be aware of this already. Paul Hudson, BBC's reporter on climate change, on Friday wrote that there's been no warming since 1998, and that pacific oscillations will force cooling for the next 20-30 years. It is not outrageously biased in presentation as are other skeptics' views.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8299079.stm
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100013173/the-bbcs-amazing-u-turn-on-climate-change/

BBC has significant influence on public opinion outside the US."

There were a number of responses from the climate scientists team:

Trenbeth in reply to Mann (oct 12, 2009):

"Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming? We are asking that here in Boulder where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record. We had 4 inches of snow. The high the last 2 days was below 30F and the normal is 69F, and it smashed the previous records for these days by 10F. "

"The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate."

Wigley to Trenbeth and the team (oct14 2009)

"At the risk of overload, here are some notes of mine on the recent lack of warming. I look at this in two ways. The first is to look at the difference between the observed and expected anthropogenic trend relative to the pdf for unforced variability. The second is to remove
ENSO, volcanoes and TSI variations from the observed data.

Both methods show that what we are seeing is not unusual. The second method leaves a significant warming over the past decade."

Kevin to Wigley and team:

"How come you do not agree with a statement that says we are no where close to knowing where energy is going or whether clouds are changing to make the planet brighter. We are not close to balancing the energy budget. The fact that we can not account for what is happening in the climate system makes any consideration of geoengineering quite hopeless as we will never be able to tell if it is successful or not! It is a travesty!"

Mann again 14 Oct 2009:

"But this raises the interesting question, is there something going on here w/ the energy & radiation budget which is inconsistent with the modes of internal variability that leads to similar temporary cooling periods within the models. I'm not sure that this has been addressed--has it?"

Another response:
"I didn't mean to offend you. But what you said was "we can't account or the lack of warming at the moment". Now you say "we are no where
close to knowing where energy is going". In my eyes these are two different things -- the second relates to our level of understanding,
and I agree that this is still lacking."

Then of course, Michael Mann's first thought is to get in touch with Richard Black:

Michael Mann wrote:

"extremely disappointing to see something like this appear on BBC. its particularly odd,
since climate is usually Richard Black's beat at BBC (and he does a great job). from what I can tell, this guy was formerly a weather person at the Met Office.

We may do something about this on RealClimate, but meanwhile it might be appropriate for the Met Office to have a say about this, I might ask Richard Black what's up here?"

Is this the settled science?

Then a few months later after Climategate and copenhagen, Roger Harrabin, in a website interview with Phil Jones, gets some answers:
Not exactly primetime TV (as all the scares at Copenhagen)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8511670.stm

No Statitsical warming for a decade.
It has probably as warm, warmer in the past,
and the rate of warming has been similar in the past (ie not unprecedented)

So why were the politicians screaming at Copenhage - 50 days to save the planet.

From what, a natural cycle of climate, indistinguishable form previous natural cycles, with no human signature identified in the climate..

Very relevant, very now, with a 45 trillion 'carbon' economy just around the corner.

Also, again the BBC 'spins' the truth..

that the data was freely available.. (is being economical with the truth)

From the available data, in order to reproduce, test audit Jones, et als work.

You need to know, what data was used, what subset was used, what adjustemnts, etc,etc.

Without that it is impossible to reproduce/test the results..

That is what was being asked for, the response Richard Black gives above is just like the miriad of excuses used, by CRU and their apologists.

I am ashamed that the BBC (my BBC) is either so ignorant of what occured, or is just too scared to look properly, or to scared to investigate the allegations for themselves..

Maybe it is time for certain members of the environment team to step aside for a while, they may not realise it, but very many people, partly in response to what was described above.

Many people believe that the BBC has got to close to their sources, capture by 'groupthink' and are now part of the man made climate science advocay and are not just reporting it anymore....

Personally I think that analysis is being generous.

Apr 2, 2010 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterbarry woods

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